Ethnographic Collections

Explore our Ethnographic Collections - A newly developed online searchable database supported in part by the State Historical Society of Iowa Historical Resource Development Program.

The Ethnographic Collection is comprised of over 1,000 objects, representing people and cultures from around the world. The collection has grown over the last one hundred years by the donation of objects collected by Luther alumni and faculty, as well as family and friends of the college and Decorah area residents. Objects in the collection represent every continent on the globe with the exception of Antarctica. Some countries represented in our collections include: China, France, Holland, Japan, Turkey, Norway, Nepal, Madagascar, Peru, and Australia.

The largest portions of our Ethnographic Collections were compiled by two individuals who performed missionary work among indigenous people in Alaska and South Africa, Reverend Tollef Brevig and Hanna Astrup Larsen, respectively. Their stories illustrate the rich history associated with our collections.